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Top Answers to the “Sell Me This Pen” Interview Question

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Remember the infamous “sell me this pen” interview question from The Wolf of Wall Street? Spoiler alert: if asked the same at an interview, don’t give the answer from the movie. It’s clever, but it’s wrong.

How do I know? Because 100+ sales gurus I surveyed say so. So did Jordan Belfort, the real Wolf of Wall Street. Want to know what his answer would be? Read on and find out how to sell a pen in an interview!

This guide will show you:

  • The sell me this pen answer the interviewer wants.
  • Both wrong answers in The Wolf of Wall Street movie (and the right answer from the book).
  • A list of other sales interview tips that will show you exactly how to sell a product in an interview.
  • How to turn sell me a pen into a qualifying session that can get you hired.

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A note on wording: Why do we say “salesman” when that term isn’t gender-inclusive? It’s not us, it’s Google. Different people search in different ways.

We want this guide to reach them all.

1. The Right Answer to Sell Me This Pen

The right answer to sell me this pen is actually a question. There are two wrong answers in The Wolf of Wall Street. Don’t give either in a sales interview. You’ll only prove you’re good at knowing Wolf of wall Street quotes.

Sell Me This Pen Wrong Answer #1

Early in the movie, Jordan Belfort asks his friend to sell him a pen. The friend says, “Write your name down on that napkin.” “I don’t have a pen,” says Belfort. “Exactly, supply and demand.

Clever. Also, wrong.

Sell Me This Pen Wrong Answer #2

At the end of the movie, Belfort asks students to sell him a pen. They talk about its features.

Wrong again. Explaining features isn’t selling.

The Right Answer to Sell Me This Pen

The right answer comes from the Wolf of Wall Street himself.

In his book, Way of the Wolf, Belfort says, “Did it ever occur to you to maybe ask me a few questions before you attempted to ram a pen down my throat? Like, am I even in the market for a pen? Do I have a certain price range in mind? Do I prefer one type of pen to another?”

See, “sell me this pen” doesn’t mean “sell me this pen.”

Sell me this pen means:

  • Will you sell to the right person?
  • Can you identify a client’s needs?
  • Do you have basic sales skills like relationship building?
  • Can you establish urgency?
  • Can you close a sale?
  • Will you waste time lying?

Here’s how to answer sell me this pen—and how not to:

How long have you wanted to buy a pen?
This pen writes under whipped cream. It makes you rich and cures you acne. It bestows fame, eternal life, and free refills at the Octoplex.

See the difference?

The first sell me this pen answer shows you understand sales questions.

  • What kind of pens do you like?
  • What do you use pens for?
  • Do you go for fashion or utility?

It proves you’ve got the key sales trait of empathy.

The second answer? It just proves you’re a liar. So beware. Asking how long they’ve wanted a pen won’t get you hired. It’s just the beginning.

Pro Tip: The perfect answer to sell me this pen only works if the interviewer has sales skills too. If he’s just filling in and thought the question sounded cool, watch out.

Want to blow that sales interview out of the water? Prep by powering-up your resume. See our guide: Sales Representative Resume: Sample & Writing Guide

Creating a resume with our builder is incredibly simple. Follow our step-by-step guide and use content from Certified Professional Resume Writers to have a resume ready in minutes.

When you’re done, our easy resume builder will score your resume and our resume checker will tell you exactly how to make it better.

2. How to Turn Sell Me This Pen Into a Job


You gave a great sell me this pen answer. Namely, “How long have you wanted to buy a pen?” But the interviewer said, “I don’t want a pen.”

The best sell me this pen answer doesn’t stop at the first sentence. To prove your sales skills, do a qualifying session. Let’s equip you for a solid sales discussion.

Sell Me This Pen Answer Examples

Interviewer: Sell me this pencil.

Applicant: How long have you wanted to buy a pencil?

Interviewer: I don’t want to.

Applicant: Hm. Do you ever buy pencils?

Interviewer: My admin handles that.

Applicant: That’s great. Does cost matter more to her, or quality?

Interviewer: I’m not sure.

Applicant: Well I’d love to talk to her. I traditionally save customers 10%–30% on pencils of all quality ranges. Could we set up a call?

You just proved you know how to qualify a lead.

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: About a day.

Applicant: Do you use pens for everyday tasks, or for important business deals? Do you find yourself borrowing them a lot?

Expert-level. You showed you can establish need.

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: How long have you wanted to buy a pen?

Interviewer: Mine just ran out.

Applicant: That’s too bad. Can I leave this one with you? If you don’t like it I’ll come back in a week and you won’t pay a cent.

Nice. You learned about the prospect’s need and timeline. Then you solved her problem and set up a free trial.

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: Do you need a pen?

Interviewer: Sure.

Applicant: Do you like blue ink best or red or black? Ballpoints or fine-tips?

Perfect. You proved you can dig into specific needs.

Interviewer: Sell me this pen.

Applicant: Do you actually need a pen?

Interviewer: Yes.

Applicant: Do you like fine-tips or ballpoints? Fancy or plain? What color ink?

Interviewer: I like plain blue-ink ballpoints.

Applicant: I think this pen’s a great fit for you. It’s a plain blue-ink ballpoint. Great for taking notes and signing business documents. Can I put you down for two boxes?

Brilliant. You qualified the customer and learned her needs. Then you closed the sale. You demonstrated major sales skills to the interviewer.

Pro Tip: Brush up on your sales skills before the interview. When the interviewer says, “sell me something,” use that as your cue to strut your stuff.

What will the interviewer ask besides sell me this pen? See our guide: Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

3. Sales Interview Tips

Great. You sold me a pen. Now sell me you.

The interviewer won’t stop at sell me a pen. To get the job, you’ll need to clear a dozen other hurdles.

Use these sales interview tips to land the job:

  • Treat it like a sales meeting. Learn your prospect’s needs. Then show how you can fill them.
  • Research the company and job. What do they care about? Hitting targets? Getting new customers? Read the job ad. Check them out online. Then do informational interviews with current staff.
  • Ask qualifying questions. Learn their problems, timeline, and budget. What traits do their best salespeople have?
  • Equip yourself with past achievements. Show you’ve done what they want. Do they want new customers? Bring up how you landed 50 clients in a year.
  • Prepare for basics. Tell me about yourself. Why should we hire you? What’s your greatest weakness? Drill common interview questions until you nail them.
  • Prep for typical salesman job interview questions. How do you handle objections? Have you ever missed a target? What sale(s) are you most proud of?

Pro Tip: Supersize your sell me this pen answer with urgency. “Fortunately, I’ve still got a few left” adds a nice touch to a sales interview.

Need more sales interview tips? See our guide: 50+ Interview Tips that Work: Best Advice for a Successful Job

Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:

See more cover letter templates and start writing.

Key Takeaway

Summary: Sell me this pen answer:

  • The interviewer doesn’t mean, “Sell me this pen.”
  • She wants to know if you have basic sales skills.
  • Don’t use the answers in The Wolf of Wall Street.
  • Turn the question into a qualifying session and learn the client’s needs.

Still not sure how to answer sell me this pen? Wondering about other trick interview questions? Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply!

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Tom Gerencer, CPRW
Tom Gerencer is a career expert and Certified Professional Resume Writer who has published over 200 in-depth articles on Zety. Since 2016, he has been sharing advice on all things recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion. Linkedin

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